SOUTH ASIAN BOYS WIN SIX GOLD, EIGHT SILVER AND SIX BRONZE MEDALS AT PROVINCIAL HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
BY RATTAN MALL
Photo 1: Jasmit Phulka
SOUTH Asian boys dominated the seven 70 kg to 110 kg-plus categories at last weekend’s Provincial High School Wrestling Championships, bagging five gold, five silver and three bronze medals.
However, in the 10 38 kg to 66 kg categories, they only managed one gold, three silver and three bronze medals.
Photo 2: Guru Gobind Singh Wrestling Club: (Standing) Coach Boota Dhindsa (third from left), followed by (L-R) wrestlers: Gulraj Binning, Sunny Dhindsa, Mandeep Gill, Manveer Gill, and Ravneek Sandhu. (Kneeling) Wrestler Gurbir Brar (second from left followed by (L-R) wrestlers Amrit Sund, Ranjot Sandher, and Gurvir Bhangu.
Overall, they won a total of six gold, eight silver and six bronze medals this year - as compared to last year’s 10 gold, six silver and five bronze medals.
According to the B.C. Wrestling website, the top medal performances came from Jasmit Phulka (78 kg), who won a gold medal, and Jobanjit Phulka (74 kg), who won a silver medal. Both are from Miri Piri Wrestling Club under coach Sucha Mann who also coaches Abbotsford’s Rick Hansen Hurricanes.
It appears that South Asian wrestling clubs will have to spend more time and effort to groom the younger lot as the older lot graduate from school.
School-wise, in the boys’ category, Rick Hansen came first with 67 points, followed by ADSS (Alberni District Secondary School) with 58 points and Burnaby Central with 54 points.
Photo 3: Guru Hargobind Singh Wrestling Club: (L-R) Coach Nazir Lal, wrestlers Dilsahib Nahal, Aaron Mann, Sunny Sahota, Karnbir Johal, and Karn Basra, and coach Randeep Sodhi.
Photo 4: Brothers Amarveer and Parm Dhesi with dad (coach) Balbir.
Photo 5: Saheel Khan
Photo 6: Coach Sucha Mann
110-plus kg category
1. SUNNY DHINSA of WJ Mouat (Guru Gobind Singh)
Sunny won the gold medal last year in the same category and the year before that, he won the gold in the 110 kg category.
2. ARON MANN of Enver Creek (Guru Hargobind Singh)
3. RAVNEET SANDHU of Rick Hansen (Guru Gobind Singh)
Last year also Ravneet won the bronze in this category.
110 kg category
1. PARM DHESI of Burnaby Central (Khalsa)
Parm and his brother Amarveer, who won the silver in the same category, are the sons of Balbir Dhesi, the president and head coach of Khalsa Wrestling Club.
2. AMARVEER DHESI of Burnaby Central (Khalsa)
Amarveer won the gold medal in the 78 kg category last year. But this year he was in the same category as his brother, Parm.
90 kg category
1. KARNBIR JOHAL of Enver Creek (Guru Gobind)
Karnbir won the gold in this category last year also.
3. SAHEEL KHAN of Burnaby Central (Khalsa)
84 kg category
2. MANPREET VIRK of John Oliver (Khalsa)
3. DILSAHIB NAHAL of Princess Margaret (Guru Gobind Singh)
78 kg category
1. JASMIT PHULKA of Rick Hansen (Miri Piri)
Jasmit won the gold medal in the 74 kg category last year when he was also declared the outstanding wrestler of the tournament. He won Canada’s first ever gold medal in wrestling at the Commonwealth Youth Wrestling Championships in Singapore last year in January.
74 kg category
2. JOBANJIT PHULKA of Rick Hansen (Miri Piri)
Jobanjit is Jasmit Phulka’a cousin. He won the gold medal in the 60 kg category last year.
70 kg category
1. MANNY GILL of Abby Collegiate (Guru Gobind Singh)
Manny won the gold medal in the 63 kg category last year.
2. SUNNY SAHOTA of Tamanawis (Guru Hargobind Singh)
63 kg category
2. JAS RANU of Lord Tweedsmuir (Khalsa)
Last year Jas won the silver medal in the 57 kg category.
60 kg category
3. RANJOT SANDHAR of Rick Hansen (Guru Gobind Singh)
57 kg category
2. AMAN KALER of Mennonite Educational Institute (Abby)
Last year Aman won the silver medal in the 51 kg category
54 kg category
3. AMRIT SUND of WJ Mouat (Guru Gobind Singh)
Amrit won the gold medal in the 48 kg category last year when his match was declared the ‘Best Finals Match.’
48 kg category
1. AMRIT BENNING of WJ Mouat (Abby)
3. MANEET KLAIR of Rick Hansen (Miri Piri)
41 kg category
2. DAVE SHARMA of Mennonite Educational Institute (Abby)
Dave won the bronze medal in the 38 kg category last year.
“THE SKY BELOW” EVENT AT LANGARA COLLEGE SPARKED OFF A LIVELY DEBATE ON THE PARTITION
BY INDIRA PRAHST
Instructor of Race and Ethnic Relations
Department of Sociology
Langara College, Vancouver
LAST week The Centre for Race, Autobiography, Gender and Age (RAGA) at UBC and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Langara College organized a film screening of “The Sky Below,” a film on the partition of India and Pakistan by Sarah Singh at Langara in Vancouver. The film, based on interviews with people across the border, throws a fresh light on this traumatic event and contributes to the growing understanding that strengthens the peace movement of people on both sides of this line etched in blood.
Following the film screening to a full house, I spoke on why this film was important to screen in a geopolitical context, especially after 9/11, where a raft of negative social constructions about Muslims and Pakistan are played out in the media within an “Orientalist” framework.
(Photo: Pakistan’s Consul General Shuja Alam)
This film was refreshing as Sarah brought out the beauty of Pakistan, its rich culture and heritage, a side of Pakistan that gets eclipsed with images of terrorism. Also, since 9/11, the war on terror has intensified a climate of Islamophobia for imperialist expansion, and the media has represented women as victims of their culture, often symbolized with the wearing of the burqua as “a prison.” In this context, it was refreshing as well to see women in this film being cast in their natural setting and the narratives highlighting the strength of women and revealing heterogeneous experiences and subjectivities of women.
MY introduction was followed by a panel presentation. Fauzia Rafiq, a South Asian Canadian writer of fiction and poetry and author of the novel 'Skeena,’ spoke about the importance of looking at history in examining the Partition and how the film managed to tap in on the complexities of history. She noted: “What catches my attention in the film is how the issues are brought to us. While they are painful, the film made it safe for us by focussing on the indestructible, the art, the musical sounds, the faces of people that are not politicians,” adding that the film gave her confidence in her roots.
The second panelist, Dr. Chin Banjeree, president of South Asian Film Education Society and South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD) and a retired English professor of Simon Fraser University spoke about national identities, stating that the film allows us to go outside the boundaries of the Partition and to create allies, and transnational and post-nationalist identities. He said the Diaspora has arrived at a new identity that enables us to transcend those limits, and added: “When you are India, it only gives you a perspective of an Indian nationalist perspective. In Pakistan it is the same story. Here in Canada, we don’t have to be that way. We can read all the papers and talk to anybody, get out of village and meet without caste and other differences.” He said the new future and the new world also means “taking the past, crossing it out and constructing something new. This possibility of transcending the border is open to us and many want to promote that, to cross out the national identity and construct new identities.”
It is this viewpoint that sparked debate and opened up an engaging and intellectual discussion on diverse themes including: the anguish of a people separated by a border, the politics of South Asia, the occupancy of Kashmir and the importance of tracing the roots of the Partition and the current situation within a context of colonialism, state power and imperialism and how that impacts on subjectivity.
Director of RAGA and Professor of Women’s Studies at the University of British Columbia, Sunera Thobani, noted that in order to understand how these nation states come into being, “it is really important not to cause blame, but to understand how power is organized and operated and is reproduced.” In responding to the subject of “national identity,” Thobani stated that in the South Asian context, such identities are “a colonial creation and have been reproduced over six decades now; colonial constructs that we continue to reproduce.”
PAKISTAN’S Consul General Shuja Alam attended the screening and participated extensively in the discussion throughout the event, which went overtime. The evening’s discussion was both tense and intense as diverse and differing viewpoints were exchanged on a raft of issues affecting Pakistan today and the situation in Kashmir.
One participant said that he strongly objects to this kind of bilateral talk between India and Pakistan because whenever the two nations talk to each other, it is Kashmir that gets left out in the process. He added: “The new breed of secular leftist intellectuals in India, with their supposed impartial position to Pakistan, … the rhetoric they are engaged in ignores the most brutal force, the effect of occupation which is doing the aggression which is occupying a certain land. To end that occupation and to solve a problem, occupation must end.”
When Sarah was in town to screen her film last summer, she told me that upon learning about the history of the Partition and Independence, she realized that very little was done on this topic which she felt was a real shame because it is an event in 20th Century history “that was certainly one of the most defining moments for the subcontinent.”
Sarah also noted that the Partition had a “lingering and rippling effect” which was not positive for many people and wanted to explore these sentimentsand viewpoints on both sides of the border. In doing so, Sarah believed that it was essential to look at the broader picture and set up some of the historical context for what is going on in that part of the world and was very conscious of themedia portrayal of Pakistan as a terrorist state. To tap in on the many sides to the story of the Partition, Sarah employed a “cubistic” style: “Coming at the film with history, politics, sociology and culture you are incorporating all these things from many different perspectives and weaving them together and therefore allowing there to be many ways in interpreting and understanding.”
This approach was well received by Shuja Alam who said: “It was a moving film and as you pointed out it was cubist-kind facets of reality. But do all these facets add up to make a picture as a whole more than the subtly of all that?”
In addition to the film being refreshing and aesthetically beautiful to watch with an interesting trajectory, it also allowed questions to be raised in discussion about the current state of affairs in Pakistan, the effects of colonialism in the present day, in questioning culture, identity and subjectivity and how people forge a strong sense of belonging to a land connected to history and the present.
FOUR SOUTH ASIAN LIBERAL MP’S IN B.C. AND ONTARIO BEING TARGETED BY CONSERVATIVE PARTY
(Photo: Jason Kenney)
A package from Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s office that was mistakenly hand-delivered to an NDP MP’s office reveals the Conservative strategy to target 10 “very ethnic” ridings – ridings that have an ethnic composition of at least 20 per cent – and one of them is the Vancouver South riding of Ujjal Dosanjh, who almost lost his seat to the Conservative’s Wai Young in the last election in 2008, squeaking through by just 22 votes after a recount.
The other “very ethnic” ridings are Mount Royal in Quebec; Bramalea-Gore-Malton (Liberals’ Gurbax Malhi), Brampton-Springdale (Liberals’ Ruby Dhalla), Eglinton-Lawrence, Richmond Hill and York Centre in Ontario; Elmwood in Manitoba; and Newton-North Delta (Liberals’ Sukh Dhaliwal) and Burnaby-Douglas in British Columbia.
The package contained a letter printed on Kenney’s Parliamentary office letterhead, which is a violation of the rules that prohibit ministerial staff from using government resources to promote party interests, seeking $200,000 in donations to support the Conservative strategy.
(Photo: Ujjal Dosanjh)
A document in the package noted: “If GTA (Greater Toronto Area) South Asians were to form a city, it would be the third largest city in the country. There are lots of ethnic voters. There will be quite a few more soon. They live where we need to win."
The document provides an overview of the advertising targeting different cultural communities. It also contains an analysis of voting patterns among Chinese Canadians and South Asians who speak Punjabi and Hindi.
The document says the Conservatives are losing and adds that they are losing less badly now and need to positively brand the party in target communities.
The letter signed by Kasra Nejatian, director of multicultural affairs in Kenney's office, tells MPs: “I understand Minister Kenney spoke with you this week to seek out your support and financial assistance. As you will see in the presentation materials, we require an additional $200,000 of financial commitment from various Conservative Electoral District Associations to make this campaign a success."
(Photo: Sukh Dhaliwal)
The letter states: “Given the current political environment, we hope to have commitments by March 11, 2011. We know that this is a short period of time, but we would be grateful if you could reach out to your EDA (Electoral District Association) and seek their support for this project."
Ministerial spokesman Alykhan Valshi in an email said: “This is very serious and unacceptable. The employee responsible for this matter has offered the minister his resignation and the minister has accepted it.”
He said Kenney would take up the issue with the Speaker of the House, the Ethics Commissioner and the Board of Internal Economy.
(Photo: Gurbax Malhi)
According to media reports, the two-week advertising campaign in local ethnic media will launch on March 15. This indicates that the government expects to be defeated on the budget.
Four ethnic groups have been targeted: Chinese, South Asians, Ukrainians and Jews. The analysis notes that support for the Conservatives declines as the number of South Asian and Chinese voters in a riding climbs. That seems to be even more pronounced in the 905 area of Ontario.
(Photo: Ruby Dhalla)
The Conservatives plan to spend $318,000 on an advertising blitz on ethnic media TV. A sample ad targeting South Asians conveys an image of the Conservatives understanding their struggles and sharing their family values. The campaign also plans to take advantage of an Indian Cricket match at the World Cup on March 20.
INTEGRATING IMMIGRANTS: CANADA SHOULD ALLOW NON-CITIZEN RESIDENTS TO VOTE, SAYS REPORT
A new study published on February 28 by the British Council and the Migration Policy Group compares and ranks Canada against 29 countries in Europe and the USA. It shows that while Canada has some of the strongest policies in place to ensure the integration of immigrants, there are still areas it can improve and learn from others.
The study finds that in Canada immigrant workers and their families benefit from the third best integration policies in the 31 MIPEX countries. Governments have made efforts to ensure that immigrants have near equal opportunities in the labour market and in the education system.
However, the study also points to some important areas Canada could improve, including:
*The need to remove the large backlog for processing immigrant applications; in 20 countries under study, there are legal time-limits to do so;
*The recognition that non-citizen residents should be given the right to vote in local elections; 18 EU Member States have extended this right to their non-EU residents; and
*The importance of giving leaders of immigrant associations the chance to inform integration policy through immigrant consultative bodies; 14 European countries and leading US states and cities have formal structures in place to seek the views of newcomers.
The Migration Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) contrasts and compares integration policies across 31 countries in Europe and North America. It benchmarks whether governments grant equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities for all residents – international standards that have been agreed upon by EU Member States. These high standards are critical as successful integration helps create more competitive and cohesive societies.
Top 10 and bottom 10 countries in integrating newcomers
Best countries and scores:
1. Sweden: 83
2. Portugal: 79
3. Canada: 72
4. Finland: 69
5. Netherlands: 68
6. Belgium: 67
7. Norway: 66
8. Spain: 63
9. USA: 62
10. Italy: 60
Worst countries and scores:
1. Czech Republic 46
1. Estonia 46
2. Hungary: 45
2. Romania: 45
3. Switzerland: 43
4. Austria: 42
4. Poland: 42
5. Bulgaria: 41
6. Lithuania: 40
7. Malta: 37
8. Slovakia: 36
9. Cyprus: 35
10. Latvia: 31
VANCOUVER PARK BOARD APPROVES MONUMENT TO COMMEMORATE KOMAGATA MARU
THE Vancouver Park Board this week approved the monument to commemorate the Komagata Maru at Harbour Green Park in Coal Harbour.
Park Board’s Communications Coordinator Barb Floden told the Asian Journal: “The next step happens this month with the finalization of the design and they will be approved by the federal [Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism], who are funding the project.
“The construction and installation is expected to be complete by March, 2012.”
The site is close to where the Komagata Maru was anchored in 1914. The ship carried 376 passengers of Indian descent – all subjects of the Crown – and was prevented from docking in the Vancouver port. After a two month standoff in the harbour, the ship went back to India where, in an altercation between the passengers and British soldiers, approximately 20 passengers and a number of soldiers died.
The monument to the Komagata Maru will be a replica of the ship and will include the names of all the passengers, photographs and a descriptive plaque.
Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney last December announced funding to the Khalsa Diwan Society for two projects to commemorate the Komagata Maru incident.
The Khalsa Diwan Society has received $82,500 to work with the Vancouver Parks Board to determine a location and design of a monument to commemorate the Komagata Maru.
It will also receive $104,000 to develop the first phase of a museum dedicated to the incident.
MEANWHILE, Sahib Thind, President, Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation of Canada, issued the following statement:
“The funding provided through the Community Historical Recognition Program to recognize the Komagata tragedy further adds to the grief and sorrow of the community before Komagata Maru tragedy is officially recognized with an apology in the House of Commons.
“The Prof. Mohan Singh Memorial Foundation of Canada is urging Jason Kenney, Minister of Immigration and Citizenship, that the community is expecting an apology in regards to the Komagata Maru tragedy in the House of Commons. Any other measures are not sufficed including any monetary funding for monuments / projects. Any measures taken by the government without an apology in House of Commons are viewed an attempt to ‘buy’ votes from the community and it is being strongly condemned by the community and our organization.
“The community along with our organization has been waiting patiently for a formal and respectful apology from the Government of Canada in the House of Common.
“It has been 96 years and it time that the government took a leadership role for an apology to help the Southeast Asian community begin the healing process. It would be a momentous first step, with a formal apology in the Canada’s Parliament, toward achieving full justice, reconciliation and closure to right the historic wrong of the Komagata Maru incident that has been a stain on our national conscience for almost a century.”
CANADA CONDEMNS ASSASSINATION OF PAKISTANI MINISTER SHAHBAZ BHATTI, WANTS ABUSE OF BLASPHEMY LAWS TO END
PRIME Minister Stephen Harper on Wednesday condemned the assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Minister of Minorities, and called for an end to the abuse of Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Bhatti was a Roman Catholic.
Harper said in a statement: “Canada stands against those who commit gutless acts of murderous violence and extremism, and calls for the Pakistani authorities to bring those responsible to justice.
“Canada also continues to urge Pakistan to prevent the abuse of its blasphemy laws, which restrict freedom of religion and expression and have disproportionately targeted religious minorities, and to protect individuals who choose to speak out on these issues.”
Harper said: “On behalf of our government and Canadians across the country, I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, and to the Pakistani people in the wake of his assassination. His death is a loss to the people of Pakistan and all those who shared his commitment to the promotion of tolerance and religious freedoms in that country.
“I had the honour of meeting Minister Bhatti last month and was greatly inspired by his courageous work in support of minority communities and human rights in Pakistan. Canada also shares a unique link with the Bhatti family, as Shabaz’s brother, Peter Bhatti, is a Canadian citizen. Canada will remember and honour Minister Bhatti's legacy of working for a peaceful, tolerant Pakistan.”
FOREIGN Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said: “On behalf of the government of Canada, I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Minister Bhatti and to the Pakistani people. I was moved by Minister Bhatti’s great courage when I met him last month, and it is with great personal sadness that I receive this news. We are appalled by this cowardly attack against a brave individual who had the courage to speak out against extremists in Pakistan.
“Canada strongly condemns this assassination and attempts by extremists to silence human rights defenders in Pakistan.
“We urge Pakistan to protect all those who find the courage to speak out against the country’s controversial blasphemy laws and to bring to justice the perpetrators of this heinous crime.
“ … The government of Canada will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who defend human rights around the world.”
CITIZENSHIP, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney said: “I am shocked and saddened to hear of the death today of my friend Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s Minister of Minorities.
“I had the honour of hosting the Minister when he was in Canada last month. Shahbaz Bhatti was a brave and honourable man. He was a champion of freedom and of all those who are persecuted for their faith.
“As the first and only Christian minister in the Pakistani government, he understood intimately the importance of protecting religious and ethnic minorities. In his too short life, he worked tirelessly to defend religious freedom and human rights in Pakistan and around the world, not least through his public condemnation of his country’s blasphemy laws. His murder demonstrates just how courageous he was in this campaign.
“When I saw him last month, I was struck by how resigned he was about his expected martyrdom. He told me that he would not marry, because he did not want to leave a widow or orphans behind when that time came.”
LIBERAL Leader Michael Ignatieff said: “We join with the friends and family of Minister Shahbaz Bhatti in mourning the loss of this courageous and principled defender of the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan.
“The brutal, premeditated murder of Minister Bhatti at the hands of extremists in Islamabad, just weeks after the murder of Salman Taseer, the former Governor of Punjab province, is a troubling sign that the government of Pakistan is losing its power to quell the violent opposition to those working to stop the abuse of the nation’s blasphemy laws.
“These laws have been used contrary to Quranic principles of tolerance and compassion and have served as a tacit endorsement of violence by extremists opposed to democratic and cultural reform in Pakistan.
“I know those here in Canada with family and strong ties to Pakistan join me in urging the government of Pakistan to stand by all of its citizens in the spirit of tolerance and religious freedoms.
“May those mourning the death of this brave man here in Canada take their inspiration and resolve from Mr. Bhatti to stand with those whose basic human rights and religious freedoms are threatened throughout the world.”
Liberal Human Rights Critic Irwin Cotler stated: “Minister Shahbaz Bhatti will be remembered for his courage and commitment to the protection of human rights in Pakistan in general, and the protection of minority rights in particular.
“Pakistan has lost a great and courageous son of its people, and we have lost a great hero in the struggle for human rights.”
Liberal Multiculturalism Critic Rob Oliphant added: “I recently had the opportunity to meet Mr. Bhatti and encourage him in his work protecting the rights of minorities in Pakistan. Today, we stand with all who grieve this loss of a voice of reason, compassion and tolerance.
“Muslims I represent have shown me the beauty of Islam and taught me that Islam espouses respect among all people. With me, they condemn this atrocity and together we pray for the dignity of every human being regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.”
NDP leader Jack Layton said: “It was with deep regret and sadness I learned of Shahbaz Bhatti’s assassination in Pakistan.
“Mr. Bhatti was a staunch defender of human rights and a supporter of pluralism. He was brave in his convictions and boldly spoke up for Pakistan’s religious and cultural minorities.
“That is why I am proud to support a motion in the House of Commons condemning the assassination, and demanding the Government of Pakistan take immediate action against those who harm and threaten defenders of religious freedom and human rights. The motionalso calls for the government to repeal its blasphemy laws.
“Sadly, after last month’s murder of Punjab governor, Salmaan Taseer, Mr. Bhatti is now the second high-ranking Pakistani politician to have been murdered while opposing the blasphemy laws.
“On behalf of the New Democratic Party of Canada, I extend my sincere condolences and sympathies to his family and to the people he stood up for.”
ACCORDING to reports in the Pakistani media, gunmen shot and killed Bhatti while he was on his way to work in Islamabad. The minister arrived dead at Shifa Hospital and his driver was also wounded badly, hospital spokesman Asmatullah Qureshi said.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing, saying the minister had been “punished” for being a blasphemer.
Witnesses said the attackers scattered leaflets signed by “The Qaeda and the Taliban of Punjab” at the attack scene, which read: “This is the punishment of this cursed man.”
Taliban militants had called for Bhatti’s death because of his attempts to amend the blasphemy law.
Bhatti was one of the founding members of the organisation ‘All Pakistan Minorities Alliance’ (APMA) in 1985 and was considered a representative of the religious minorities in Pakistan.
SHOW YOUR SOLIDARITY FOR THE RIGHT TO WEAR KIRPAN IN QUEBEC BY SIGNING PETITION
FOUR Canadian Sikhs were refused entry into the National Assembly of Quebec because they refused to remove their kirpans. The United Sikhs organization is now petitioning for Sikhs to be able to wear their kirpans freely and would like your support. Sign this petition now: http://unitedsikhs.org/petitions/petition.php?id=14
The United Sikhs points out that Sikhs are a well-integrated community in Canada that have been continually afforded acceptance and respect for their articles of faith by the larger community. While they remain a religious minority, Quebec itself is a minority within English-speaking Canada.
“The kirpan always reminds me to stand for justice and equality. It is this very notion of justice, equality and preserving one’s unique differences that Quebec has historically fought to maintain,” said Ranbir Singh, United Sikhs Director in Toronto.
The United Sikhs says that although the incident at the Quebec Assembly was regrettable and unfortunate, it provides an opportunity for dialogue with the various communities that enrich Quebec and Canada. The United Sikhs stands in solidarity with the global Sikh community and the political leaders that have condemned the incident. Sikhs look up to the ordinary citizens of Quebec to stand with them and ensure that a similar event does not occur in the future.
“We are calling on Sikhs and the larger community in Quebec to stand strong and show their support by signing this petition for the right to wear kirpan,” said the United Sikhs.
Petition for The Right to Kirpan in Quebec
Quebec National Assembly
House of Commons
Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Special Rapporteurs:
Heiner Bielefeldt, Freedom of Religion or Belief
Gay J. McDougall, Independent Expert on Minority Issues
Githu Muigai, Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
Frank William La Rue, Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression
Rudi Muhammad Rizki, Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity
This petition is organized by UNITED SIKHS a U.N. affiliated, international non-profit, non-governmental, humanitarian relief, human development and advocacy organization, aimed at empowering those in need, especially disadvantaged and minority communities across the world. (See www.unitedsikhs.org)
1. We deeply regret the vote by the Quebec National Assembly to ban the wearing of the kirpan, an article of faith that represents the Sikh identity and is worn at all times by initiated Sikh men and women representing their commitment to upholding justice and human rights.
2. We appeal to the People of Quebec, the Quebec National Assembly, and the Members of the Quebec Parliament to uphold the basic human rights as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms by removing this ban on the kirpan.
3. We appeal to the People of Canada, the Members of the Canadian Parliament, the leaders of all faiths, religions and ethnic groups of the world to call upon the Quebec National Assembly and the Members of the Quebec Parliament to uphold the basic human rights as guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
4. We also remind Canada of its international obligations to protect minority and religious rights. Canada stands at the forefront of protecting human rights and is an exemplar for the rest of the world. The actions taken by the Quebec National Assembly undermines the rigorous adherence to international human rights norms which Canada has consistently shown. However, Canada must now step forward to meet this challenge.
Please join us in requesting the Quebec National Assembly to respect minority and religious rights by signing the Petition.
OTTAWA NEEDS ASIA STRATEGY, STRONGER RELATIONS WITH CHINA AND INDIA, REVEALS NEW APF CANADA OPINION POLL
WHILE 98 per cent of Canadians engaged with Asia see the brightest economic prospects in China, only 38 per cent view current Canada-China relations in a positive light. This is well behind Canada’s relations with other G20 Asian countries, notably Japan and Australia, according to an opinion panel report published on Monday by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada.
The Points of View Asia-Pacific opinion poll is the first to survey Canadians who are engaged with Asia through professional, academic and family interests. Over 80 per cent of opinion panel members have business and professional interests related to Asia. This group of "Asia Practitioners" described Canada’s overall current relations with Asia as lukewarm. Some 86 per cent of opinion panel members argued that Ottawa’s top policy priority for 2011 should be focused on developing a foreign policy strategy specifically for Asia.
“This unique and authoritative group of Asia practitioners is sending a clear message that Canada needs a stronger focus on key Asian markets and with the region as a whole,” noted Mr. Yuen Pau Woo, president and CEO of APF Canada. “Panel members are overwhelmingly of the view that Canada-China and Canada-India relations should move up the government’s priority ladder.”
The survey, which gathered views from 275 members of the Points of View Asia-Pacific opinion panel, also revealed that among the top security concerns in the region, 86 per cent viewed political instability in Pakistan as the most pressing peace and security risk, while the conflict on the Korean peninsula followed closely behind at 75 per cent. Interestingly, given the tone of U.S.-China relations in recent times, comparatively few saw the deterioration of U.S.-China relations (37%), the modernization of China’s military capabilities (38%), or the strengthening of U.S. military alliances in Asia as significant threats to regional security.
On the economic front, Japan was viewed as having the bleakest economic prospects out of its six G20 Asian counterparts (32% positive). However, Canada’s current relations with Japan ranked second highest, with 69 per cent of Canadians viewing it in a positive light.
The Points of View Asia-Pacific is an opinion panel of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada comprised of 622 individuals who are connected to or engaged in Asia through professional, academic or personal interests. It is a unique medium through which Canada’s growing community of Asia practitioners can voice their opinions and views on policy issues of the day that relate to Canada’s relations with Asia. Data was collected between February 3 and 6 with a total of 275 people completing all or part of the survey questionnaire. The response rate for this survey is 44 per cent. The margin of error for the total sample of 275 is plus or minus 5.9 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
SURREY-BASED PROGRAM THAT HELPS SENIORS LIVE WELL RECOGNIZED BY UNITED WAY
UNITED Way of the Lower Mainland will recognize the Surrey-based South Asian Seniors Outreach Project run through DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society at the Scotiabank and United Way Community Spirit Awards on March 9.
The Celebration of Community Award recognizes community supports that respond in innovative ways to changing social conditions. The award will be presented at the official wrap up of the 2010 United Way fundraising campaign.
The South Asian Seniors Outreach Project provides support to newcomer South Asian seniors in Surrey and the surrounding area. The program offers a safe and friendly way for local seniors to become connected through educational workshops and recreational programs, such as swimming and fitness.
“Seniors living well, that’s what we all want. But sadly, too many seniors in our neighbourhoods are isolated. When seniors are alone and disconnected, we all lose,” said Michael McKnight, President and CEO of United Way of the Lower Mainland.
“The South Asian Seniors Outreach Project has allowed a group of South Asian seniors in Surrey to connect with their community in a very active and healthy way. This is the kind of powerful work United Way donors and community partners are making possible throughout the Lower Mainland. When we help others, our community is stronger.”
The Scotiabank and United Way Community Spirit Awards, set for 7:15 to 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 9 at The Westin Bayshore Vancouver, honours the community commitment and leadership shown by volunteers and donors during the 2010 United Way Campaign.
Last year United Way touched the lives of 350,000 people across the Lower Mainland. United Way is focused on helping seniors and helping children.
VALLEY WOMEN’S GROUPS COLLABORATE ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY CELEBRATION
THIS year marks the global centenary of International Women’s Day, a day to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of women worldwide. The Women’s Resource Society of the Fraser Valley (WRSFV) along with partners Business and Professional Women (Mission and Abbotsford), Valley Women’s Network (Mission and Abbotsford) and the Mission / Abbotsford Soroptimists will honour the occasion on Friday, March 11 at a fun-filled celebration called, “100 Years, 100 Local, Inspiring Women.” Stories are being collected that profile 100 special women, spanning 100 years in the Mission and Abbotsford communities. These stories will be on display during the event.
The event will also raise money from ticket sales and from a silent auction for a couple of international development projects that work to improve the safety and well-being of women and girls. Event attendees will decide where the money is spent by selecting by ballot the projects they wish to support.
The key note address will be given by social activist and educator Satwinder Bains, Director of the Centre for Indo-Canadian Studies at UFV. Bains is also a local farmer.
Evening entertainers include the UFV Gidda Team, Kytami, a fusion fiddler formerly of the local band Delhi 2 Dublin, Tha Fae, an Egyptian Cabaret / Fusion Belly Dance Troupe, and others. Dinner is included and will feature a multi-cultural menu.
Tickets will be on a sliding scale from $5 to $40. “We do not want the inability to afford a ticket to be a barrier for anyone who wishes to attend. That is why we created the sliding scale for ticket sales,” said Pamela Willis, Executive Director of the WRSFV. Join in the party on March 11 at the Sports Legacy Centre at #4 3270 Trethewey Street in Abbotsford. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. For information or tickets, call 604-820-8455.
To learn more about the WRSFV or their partners visit www.wrsfv.ca.
CLEAN FUEL WORSENS CLIMATE IMPACTS FOR SOME VEHICLE ENGINES: UBC STUDY
(Photo: UBC's Conor Reynolds and Andy Grieshop.)
A pioneering program by one of the world’s largest cities to switch its vehicle fleet to clean fuel has not significantly improved harmful vehicle emissions in more than 5,000 vehicles – and worsened some vehicles’ climate impacts – a new University of British Columbia study finds.
The study – which explores the impacts of New Delhi, India’s 2003 conversion of 90,000 buses, taxis and auto-rickshaws to compressed natural gas (CNG), a well-known “clean” fuel – provides crucial information for other cities considering similar projects.
Of the city’s more than 5,000 auto-rickshaws with two-stroke engines – a common form of transportation in Asia and Africa – the study found that CNG produced only minor reductions in emissions that cause air pollution and an increase in emissions that negatively impact climate change.
According to the researchers, the New Delhi’s program could have achieved greater emission reductions at a cheaper price by simply upgrading two-stroke models to the cleaner, more fuel-efficient four-stroke variety.
“Our study demonstrates the importance of engine type when adopting clean fuels,” says lead author and UBC post-doctoral fellow Conor Reynolds. “Despite switching to CNG, two-stroke engine auto-rickshaws in Delhi still produce similar levels of particulate matter per kilogram of fuel to a diesel bus – and their climate impacts are worse than before.”
Published online in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, the study is the first to comprehensively examine the pollutant emissions from small vehicle engines fuelled with CNG. It included significant laboratory testing of Indian auto-rickshaws.
The study finds that as much as one third of CNG is not properly burned in two-stroke engines, producing high emissions of methane, a major greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. CNG use also produced substantial emissions of high particulate matter from unburned lubricating oil, which can appear as blue smoke.
The findings show the importance of strong scientific data for policymakers and the need to consider small vehicles like auto-rickshaws in emissions reduction programs, according to the researchers.
“If policymakers have information about emissions and their potential impacts, they can make better decisions to serve both the public and the environment,” says Reynolds, who co-authored the study with Prof. Milind Kandlikar and post-doctoral fellow Andrew Grieshop from UBC’s Liu Institute for Global Issues and Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability.
According to the researchers, the study has broad implications for the design of public health interventions.
“Clean fuels are being used in Indian cities for transportation when they could save many more lives if used for cooking,” says Kandlikar. “The interests of the rural poor, particularly women and children, are being put below those of the urban consumer.”
According to the researchers, several Asian cities have more two-stroke auto-rickshaws than New Delhi. They say the study provides important information to other cities considering fuel-switching programs, especially those in rapidly industrializing cities in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia, where major auto-rickshaw fleets exist.
View the study at: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es102430p
ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH ASIAN PROFESSIONALS OF BC AND SOUTH ASIAN BAR ASSOCIATION OF BC JOINT NETWORKING EVENT
ANYONE know a good lawyer? There were plenty of lawyers and business professionals at the ASAP and SABA Joint Networking night. The Association of South Asian Professionals of British Columbia (ASAP), working with the South Asian Bar Association of British Columbia (SABA) held a joint networking event to reach a larger professional audience in downtown Vancouver. Last Thursday, over 60 professionals came together at the AFTERglow Lounge in Vancouver to network.
ASAP member Amneet Aulakh spoke to the gathering about ASAP’s initiatives: “As members of ASAP our vision is to raise awareness about issues in our community - some of the events we have conducted are hotdog days for the homeless and blanket drives for the homeless in the downtown east side and Surrey. We've raised funds and helped build a home with Habitat for Humanity and we have been involved with Moberly elementary school talking to young children about the value of staying in school and about career opportunities available to them.” ASAP aspires to grow its membership in order to foster new ideas and contribute to the community on a larger scale.
Attendees of the networking night asked ways they could assist ASAP in its mission. The joint networking night allowed for an excellent opportunity to make connections and meet individuals who want to make a difference in the community. The majority of the crowd agreed that they would love to come out to our future networking events and many signed up on the spot to become ASAP members.
ASAP strives to recruit individuals who are looking to make a difference. After the success of ASAP’s inaugural gala last year, they will be organizing their 2nd annual ASAP gala in June.
For those who join the team of professionals in volunteering, here are a few ways ASAP makes a difference:
* Walter Moberly Elementary School Mentorship Program: Started January, 2010. ASAP members speak to elementary school aged children monthly at Walter Moberly Elementary School. ASAP role models discuss their career path and help children learn about options for their future. You can help ASAP expand this program to other schools.
* Hot Dogs for the Homeless Campaigns: Since 2008, ASAP has been handing out thousands of free hot dogs to the underprivileged in the Downtown Eastside. Each time they hold such an event, there is a sense of fulfillment when you see everything that we take for granted. Volunteering at this event brings perspective to your life.
* Awareness Campaigns: Promote Stem Cell registry sign-up by South Asians. Spend a day building homes with Habitat for Humanity. Join the ASAP team for the World Partnership Walk, Surrey Christmas Bureau Toy Drive, The Victor Ghirra Toy Drive and many other campaigns upcoming.
* ASAP Networking Nights: Since 2008, ASAP has had a full house at each of its networking nights. This is a great way to get to know other professionals in the Lower Mainland area and help ASAP raise awareness.
* Surrey Memorial Hospital: After learning a thief had stolen video gaming equipment from sick kids at Surrey Memorial Hospital, ASAP stepped up donating video gaming controllers and numerous video games.
The Association of South Asian Professionals of British Columbia is a group consisting of South Asian professionals, including lawyers, engineers, brokers, financiers, doctors, notaries, mediapersons and local business people. The vision of the association is to exhibit social responsibility through positive action in the general community, foster leadership by acting as role models and mentors, and advocate for social issues in British Columbia, all in a professional manner focusing solely on need.
To find out how you can help make a difference, contact Jindy Bhalla, ASAP President, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
COMMUNITY IN PHOTOS
*At Surrey’s Lakshmi Narayan Mandir’s Maha Shivratri Utsav on Wednesday.
*At AMEX Fraseridge Realty’s 18th Gold Award Gala
*New Democrat leadership hopefuls Adrian Dix, Mike Farnworth, John Horgan, Dana Larsen and Nicholas Simons took questions on subjects from the harmonized sales tax to health spending, trade with Asia and the minimum wage in an event organized jointly by the Business Council of B.C and the B.C. Chamber of Commerce at Terminal City Club in Vancouver on Tuesday. New Democrats choose their new leader on April 17.
*AstraZeneca Canada Inc. presented Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation (RCHF) with a donation of $170,000 towards two new programs for the hospital’s Cardiac Services Program: an outreach clinic for heart attack survivors and a study on the risk of heart disease among South Asians in B.C. Seen in the photo are Dr. Gerald Simkus, Program Medical Director of Cardiac Services, RCH and Fraser Health Authority, Adrienne Bakker, President and CEO of RCHF, Lorraine Sharpe, cardiovascular specialist rep at AstraZeneca, Marion McCourt, President and CEO of AstraZeneca, and Dr. Arun Garg, Program Medical Director of Laboratory, RCH and FHA. / Sarojni Reddy and Pushpa Reddy who experienced acute coronary syndrome and support each other in making healthy lifestyle changes.
*Trade unionist Jinny Sims (7th from left) was acclaimed the NDP candidate in Newton-North Delta federal riding last Sunday. MLAs Harry Bains, Sue Hammell, Bruce Ralston, Jagrup Brar and others were present.